HomeFootballKerry boss O'Connor declares that 'the Championship starts here' after win

Kerry boss O’Connor declares that ‘the Championship starts here’ after win

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JACK O’CONNOR declared the ‘Championship starts here’ for Kerry after his side claimed a fourth Munster title in a row.

The Banner halved the 14-point deficit which split the teams last year as they carved out a handful of goal chances.

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Kerry manager Jack O’Connor declared the ‘Championship starts here’ for Kerry after his side claimed a fourth Munster title in a row
Kerry captain Paudie Clifford lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship final match between Kerry and Clare at Cusack Park

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Kerry captain Paudie Clifford lifts the cup after the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship final match between Kerry and Clare at Cusack Park

But they just could not convert enough to threaten a shock.

And it ended with Paudie Clifford emulating his younger brother David by raising the Munster Cup, 12 months on from the emotional triumph that followed the passing of their mother Ellen.

He said afterwards: “It’s always in the back of my mind and David’s. It’s nice to get the win.”

And O’Connor believes this Munster campaign will benefit them more than the hammerings they doled out last year.

He reckoned: “We kicked 5-14 against Clare last year and thought we were going great.

“Then we got a real lesson two weeks later from Mayo. This game will stand to us, as will the Cork game. We have had two good tests now and fellas’ feet will be on the ground.

“You’d be thinking from here on in that fellas would be coming into their peak mentally and physically.

“You just need to get your house in order now going into the group stages and try and hit the ground running then in the quarter-finals.”

Most read in GAA Football

The Kingdom’s 85th provincial crown places them in Group 4 of the All-Ireland series.

They will host Monaghan in a fortnight before travelling to play Meath. They finish with a game against the Leinster runners-up, likely Louth, at a neutral venue.

O’Connor handed first starts of the season to Dr Crokes duo Shane Murphy and Tony Brosnan.

Brosnan kicked three points and was named man of the match.

Murphy made diving saves from Dermot Coughlan and Brian McNamara either side of half-time and only lost one kick-out from 20.

Ikem Ugwueru’s 63rd-minute goal raised the biggest cheer from the 12,059 fans who turned out for the first Munster final held in Ennis for 105 years.

And the Banner also threatened with a couple of late attacks in the eight minutes of stoppage time.

McNamara’s opportunity straight from the throw-in brought back bad memories of the 2019 All-Ireland final for O’Connor.

The Kingdom chief explained recalled: “There was a similar enough situation in an All-Ireland final a few years ago where Eoin Murchan got a goal from a throw-in in the second half.

“That often happens from a throw-in. Everyone is going with their man right after half-time. The Red Sea opened and Shane Murphy bailed us out.

“We conceded two or three goal chances and that’d be something we wouldn’t be too happy about because we’d like to be mean defensively and just a bit more ruthless up front.

“We had a couple of goal chances near the end which we butchered. On another day, they might be fatal.”

Stephen Ryan made a brilliant save from Joe O’Connor early on and Barry Dan O’Sullivan palmed onto the crossbar at the death.

They did not need a goal as Seán O’Shea’s nine points kept them ticking over.

David Clifford landed 0-4, including two after spectacular outside-of-the-boot kick passes from Paudie. The elder brother chipped in with two more.

Jason Foley and Brian Ó Beaglaoich were also back to fitness and came forward from defence to kick a point apiece.

Clare produced some impressive play in attack through Coughlan’s lightning-fast solo runs. Aaron Griffin and Emmet McMahon landed some eye-catching points as all six forwards registered a score.

They begin their Group 3 campaign at home to Cork before playing Tyrone away and the Ulster champions, Donegal or Armagh, at a neutral venue.

Mark Fitzgerald rebuked some of the commentary around the provincial championships being past their sell-by date as “disrespectful to Clare football”.

He then said of his side: “They gave a robust, honest and workmanlike performance but we need more impetus off the bench.

“We need to do a bit of work on that and probably need to do a bit of work on our turnovers.

“It’s going to be the same against Cork in two weeks’ time. We have to get ready for that.”

Clare 1-13

Kerry 0-23

CLARE: S Ryan; R Lanigan, C Brennan, M Doherty; A Sweeney, I Ugwueru 1-0, C Rouine; D Bohannon, B McNamara; G Murray 0-1, D Coughlan 0-1, D Walsh 0-1; A Griffin 0-2, E McMahon 0-5, 4f, C Downes 0-2, 1f, 1 45. Subs: J McGann for Murray 15-17 mins (blood), McGann for Murray 54, M Garry for Sweeney 57, C Murray for Downes 61, M McInerney 0-1 for Coughlan 67, D Nagle for Ugwueru 70+4.

KERRY: S Murphy; P Murphy, J Foley 0-1, T O’Sullivan 0-1; B Ó Beaglaoich 0-1, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, J O’Connor; T Brosnan 0-3, P Clifford 0-2, C Burke; D Clifford 0-4, 1m, 1f, S O’Shea 0-9, 5f, 1 45, D Moynihan 0-1. Subs: M Breen for White 50 mins (head), P Geaney for Moynihan 58, Stephen O’Brien for Burke 58, BD O’Sullivan for J O’Connor 59, D Casey for Ó Beaglaoich 62, K Spillane for Brosnan 67.

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

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